7 Tips for Designing a Successful Wine List

May 10, 2024

Reading time : 5min

Creating an optimized wine list for your establishment is a job that requires a good knowledge of sommellerie, but also of the identity in place. However, even if you are a professional, it is important to be aware of certain mistakes that can be made in the design of a wine list, often inadvertently. 

A quelle température conserver son vin ? | Haier

1. Select the right products to put on the wine list  

From the outset, it will never be possible to please all the customers who visit your establishment, but it is always possible to give them a unique experience.

The selection of products for the wine list should be determined by the identity of the restaurant.

Depending on the restaurant, the percentage of wine per category may vary. A ratio of red wines, white wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines and rosé wines should be carefully thought out to reflect both the identity of the establishment (which favours food and wine pairing) and overall customer satisfaction.

💡 Delight the customers who visit your establishment by designing a wine list that fits well with your concept and identity. Be careful not to have a larger than necessary selection: quantity does not always equal quality.

2. Taking advantage of trends in the wine world

Trends are not to be overlooked, but you mustn't get carried away by the tide either. The danger lies in trying to follow trends at all costs to maximise profits quickly, which can compromise your establishment's reputation.

If you're not known for short-lived, trendy wine lists, there's no need to rush. A few choices available on the wine list will be enough to satisfy customers' curiosity and create a buzz around these trends. It's also important to consider seasonal wines, which can be part of this 'trend'. Seasonal wines may or may not be available on your wine list all year round, but their demand can increase depending on the season. For example, rosé wines are generally more in vogue in summer, while full-bodied wines (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) are less so.

💡 Gradually incorporate a number of "trendy" products into your regular selection to test the waters and offer a variety of wines that satisfy customers' curiosity. However, be wary of ordering too much at the beginning, as the duration of trends is not a given: interest can drop overnight. 

3. Write the accurate information for each wine

An essential aspect of the wine list is the description of each wine available. The information must be present and clearly legible to guide customers in their choices.

The colour of the wine and the country of origin are the two essential details, often displayed at the top of the category. The appellation, region (if necessary), estate, vintage, format and price are other details normally found on a wine list.

💡 Your amount of information is a problem that can be solved simply by having a solid product categorization that reveals a minimum amount of information up front (often the color or type of product, then the region or country). 

4. Avoid mistakes on the wine list 

Reviewing the wine list may seem like a no-brainer, but spelling mistakes can still be found. Often left unintentionally, spelling mistakes seem harmless, but can leave a stain on the professional image that customers have of you. Forgetting an "s", reversing two letters or misusing punctuation are mistakes that can happen and are easily preventable. 

It is even more important to review the spelling of the different wines on your list as well as the details (e.g. vintage) to avoid a stain on your reputation. No one wants to order a bottle of Chataeuneuf-du-Pape (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) or a wine from the Reinheissen region (Rheinhessen), not to mention the embarrassment of the waitstaff if a typo is mentioned by a customer. 

💡 Designing the wine list on the computer, using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, allows you to notice spelling mistakes quickly. This is not 100% reliable, but it helps to avoid the major errors. Having a colleague review the card before printing or posting it online also helps to avoid most spelling mistakes.

5. Offer various price ranges 

Wines come in many price ranges, and focusing on just one of them is a mistake that can damage both your revenue and your customer experience.

Although you want to make more profit from wine sales, offering only expensive choices can put off potential customers. It's better to focus on customer loyalty rather than one-off profits.

💡 Provide a wine offer in line with your identity, with several price ranges to meet all the financial situations of your customers and to avoid discomfort related to their financial status. 

6. Avoid displaying products in price order

It is not recommend to classify your wine list according to price. If the cheapest wines are at the beginning of the list or always at the top of the pages, the customer will understand this and won't have the curiosity to go further to find a wine that really suits him or her. Money, although always a sensitive subject, is an aspect that guides the way we consume and can quickly dampen the experience.  

The price classification method considerably reduces up-selling: there is less scope for dialogue when it comes to advice and recommendations on food and wine pairing, for example.

💡 Create a display order for wines based on categories (e.g. grape variety, region, color, etc.) and sub-categories, if applicable. This way, you can categorize the wines with a certain logic that contributes to the customer experience. 

7. Make a personalized wine list

A wine list must put its star in the spotlight: the wine. It is possible to personalise the list and come up with an interesting design to present to customers, but personalisation must never lose sight of the wine.

Generous spacing between products, sufficient margins and a uniform layout make a wine list easy to navigate, whatever the number of choices on offer.

The minimalist aspect of the layout is often a winner, especially as it is universally readable and timeless, so less time is spent updating the wine list!

💡 Having too much of a flashy design can steal the spotlight from the wine and cause a sense of confusion or discomfort when a customer is looking at the menu. The wine information should be visible, the menu should be easy to navigate and the focus should not be anywhere but on the wines. 

The wine list is a good way to distinguish yourself and promote your reputation. These tips are not an exhaustive list of everything that needs to be considered for a successful wine list, but lists the main aspects to be taken into account.

Stay tuned for more pro tips! 

The essential guide to designing an attractive wine list

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